Culinary Tourism is So Much Fun :: Learning How to Make Macarons

learning how to make macarons
Holding a partial tray of pistachio macarons after filling

Travel offers so many types of learning experiences

Is learning how to make macarons a worthwhile life skill? To some, not so much, but to the rest of us, baking challenges enhance our culinary skills, create BIG smiles and a happy sense of accomplishment!

As I write this post, we are in the middle of the Coronavirus pandemic, and flour is at a premium. It took me two weeks to find five pounds of white flour, and I only have it because my stepfather found it for me! Whoever thought that finding baking flour would be a problem?

However, during this small window of time, many of us are turning to baking as therapy as well as a way to learn a new skill. Some are honing our baking chops to see if we can up our game as well! So far, I have tried my hand at Foccacia and Blueberry Scones – Successfully!

Just a few months ago, when flour was an ingredient I took for granted, I learned how to make macarons. I traveled to Seattle to see our daughter and included this culinary adventure. The class was held at The Pantry and was taught by Marianna Stepniewski, a skilled pastry chef, who showed us many special techniques and offered tips and tricks. After she demonstrated what we needed to do, we tried it ourselves and took turns. We divided into four groups of three and each made a flavor.

Read moreCulinary Tourism is So Much Fun :: Learning How to Make Macarons

5 Clever Ideas That Will Enhance Your Future Travel Life

future travel

What do you need for your future travel life?

Are you missing the exhilaration of an upcoming adventure? Do you dream about your future travel life? You do know that we will travel again! No question. Will it feel different? Absolutely. Will there be new rules in place? Most assuredly. However, an adventure to a new or favorite destination will fill you up again in ways you may have forgotten.

Like you, I have been house-bound, safe at home for a while, although it feels like an eternity. Do you feel that as well? But my dream of strolling through a new city or tasting a delicious local dish has never left me. I know we will be out there again, discovering and living our lives as we have in the past.

While we are patiently doing our part to keep the virus from spreading, it is essential to keep our thoughts lively and hearts full. 

Plan ahead, get organized, dream BIG, research, create, prepare, and make lists! How about a recipe for a successful future travel life! Here are a couple of suggestions for you.

Read more5 Clever Ideas That Will Enhance Your Future Travel Life

A Brand New Adventure! I Am Going to Be a Grandma for the First Time!

going to be a grandma
Nine-month-old Rigby is excited to have a new sister AND brother!

Best news EVER!

I am going to be a grandma for the first time. Friends, I have been waiting since January to share this fantastic news with you. Our princess and her prince are having a baby. Actually, no, they are having twins! OMG! Can this be?

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What Brings You Joy During the Corona Virus Pandemic?

Big Question: What brings you joy during the Corona Virus Pandemic?

How are you all doing? So many thoughts run through my head on a daily hourly basis. How about you?

One minute I am cruising along getting things done, being creative, feeling accomplished. The next minute I am scrolling and scrolling through Instagram or Facebook, looking for something to entertain me and make me smile. Are you doing that? At times I am sad, sometimes I am worried, other times I am extremely distracted.

I know that we have to be responsible and understand how serious all of this is and how we MUST stay at home in order not to spread germs.

But I am a travel writer, and I travel for a living! I don’t pretend I went somewhere and write about it. I actually go there! My friends in the tour business have shut down tours, travel brands can’t spend their marketing dollars right now to hire me to write about a destination that no one can visit! Hellloooo, this is a challenge, I’m not going to lie.

Read moreWhat Brings You Joy During the Corona Virus Pandemic?

Can’t Travel Today? 8 Ways to Help You Dream Now & Play Later

can't travel
Can’t travel now, but we can dream – The Plantation House – Kapalua, Maui

Got travel challenges?

Are you wondering what to do now that we can’t travel freely? I know we all have to do our part and therefore, armchair travel is best for now.

Traveling is my passion, my career, and what lights me up. I am always thrilled to hear about your latest trip and the vacations of others. I can live vicariously or better yet; I can find adventure too. Since we are not currently traveling, and many of us have chosen to cancel or postpone travel arrangements, maybe now is the time to dream about your next trip?

Life is busy and we don’t always take time to enjoy the process of the hunt! To create the perfect trip or vacation, a carefully researched itinerary is the best way to go! Now is the time to get down into the teeny tiny details!

Read moreCan’t Travel Today? 8 Ways to Help You Dream Now & Play Later

The Tastiest Dishes & Most Delicious Cocktails of 2019

tastiest drinks
A celebratory Piña Colada on a sunny afternoon in Maui

Tasty Dishes & Enticing Cocktails

I began my search for the tastiest dishes of the year by sifting through my photos starting in January. However, by the time I reached the month of June, I had already chosen 30 different tantalizing feasts for the eyes! How to choose?

Be honest, do you want to see that many of my “highlights”? I don’t believe so. Therefore, I carefully looked for colorful, unique meals and surprisingly incredible drinks that are worth celebrating once again. A few of them are favorites due to their unique nature or element of surprise!

I have narrowed down this list to a more manageable number and I hope you enjoy revisiting them as much as I do!

Read moreThe Tastiest Dishes & Most Delicious Cocktails of 2019

Give Yourself A Delightful New Book Called Don’t Overthink It

new book called Don't Overthink It

Check out this thought-provoking new book called Don’t Overthink It

Are you looking for illuminating practical suggestions to take your everyday life to a new level? Does facing annoying personal habits sound daunting? This book will help smooth out the wrinkles in your decision strategies and most certainly put a smile on your face.

Reading is a huge passion of mine and almost borders on obsession. I can never be reading a book without several more in line for my next read. My TBR (to be read) list is long, and I often read two (sometimes three) books at once. To be clear, one could be a novel, another personal development, and a third is likely a memoir about a chef. It depends upon my mood and the amount of time I have to read at the moment. 

Read moreGive Yourself A Delightful New Book Called Don’t Overthink It

Come With Us On A Relaxing Winter Weekend Getaway to Phoenix

getaway to Phoenix

An Empty Nester Getaway to Phoenix

Looking for sweet relief from the struggles of winter? A quick getaway to Phoenix, Arizona might be just what the doctor ordered. Are you contemplating a seasonal escape, sick of cold temps and wet Sundays? Do dreams of a round of golf on a pristine course surrounded by happy cacti, as far as you can see, sound amazing?

You get the idea. This post is the second in a series of collaborations with my friends at Hotels.com. It is fun to re-focus on destinations that may or may not get a lot of love from travel experts. I am thrilled to offer you a spark of an idea, an inspiration or a reminder of a city you haven’t visited in a while. A trip to Arizona is on our schedule for next month! More on that in a minute.

Read moreCome With Us On A Relaxing Winter Weekend Getaway to Phoenix

My Connection Between “Lost in Translation” & My Stay at Park Hyatt Tokyo

stay at Park Hyatt Tokyo
Cheers from my table at the New York Grill at Park Hyatt Tokyo

The recent celebration of the Academy Awards prompted me to share this special story of my spectacular stay at Park Hyatt Tokyo and how a movie influenced my experience.

A movie that sparked a dream

17 years ago, back when I was not a travel writer or even much of a traveler, I saw a film that captivated me. Lost in Translation was a film with an Oscar-winning screenplay starring comedian Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson, a fantastic rising star. A large part of the movie essentially took place in an impressive, upscale, chic, I had never seen anything like this hotel in Tokyo, Japan called Park Hyatt Tokyo. 

stay at Park Hyatt Tokyo
One of many spectacular views of Tokyo from Park Hyatt Tokyo

I was enchanted by the dazzling city views out the hotel’s high rise windows. The elegant interior design and chic cocktail bar were total fantasy to me. Travel to Japan just wasn’t that common in my circle and this fact made the movie seem even more exciting and mysterious.

Back then, I truly never dreamed I would ever see and certainly never stay at a hotel like Park Hyatt Tokyo. I was a suburban mom with a limited budget, a packed schedule and busy children where this type of travel was not a realistic endeavor. Travel here was just too far out of my realm of thinking. 

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More Downsizing, Too Many Photos, More Lessons Learned

downsizing
My renovated kitchen nook and library – My happy place.

Empty Nester Downsizing:  Are you doing this?

The downsizing continues… More sifting, sorting, tossing and saving. Are you doing this? Lately, I seem to read a lot about how people are downsizing, buying smaller homes and some of them have adapted to a nomadic lifestyle. They just travel and don’t even have a permanent home any longer. 

Our children now are grown, we looked around and noticed… we have lots of stuff. I’ve written in the past about how we had a much bigger home and downsized to a smaller home which we completely renovated. The entire experience was a gratifying and exciting adventure. However, what we came to understand was that we collected too many personal possessions! Sound familiar?

Read moreMore Downsizing, Too Many Photos, More Lessons Learned

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